European Commission-funded Virtual Fencing Project LIFE Laser Fence gets under way
GWSDF Auchnerran is involved in an exciting new project funded under the European Commission LIFE Programme. The project, led by Liverpool John Moores University, in conjunction with partners in Spain and the Netherlands, will run until March 2020 and seeks to investigate the use of innovative laser systems for creating virtual fences to help reduce environmental impacts of some agricultural activities, as well as potentially improving the productivity of farming.
This ambitious project particularly targets a complete reduction in the use of chemical agents used to control rodent populations on farms, where these animals destroy crops, eat livestock feed and can transmit disease. Despite using chemicals, farmers collectively lose billions of euros each year across Europe due to damages caused by rodents to land and/or crops. Furthermore, the chemicals accumulate in the food chain and can be fatal for animals which prey on or scavenge rodents.
A virtual fence is an interesting solution to contain animals within an area, or to keep them out of a defined range. This project will demonstrate the use of a technology produced by the Bird Control Group in the Netherlands, called AgriLaser, to keep animals away from certain areas while maintaining animal welfare. Its application ensures a safer working environment without the need for chemicals and, since the technology is capable of completely autonomous operation, the in-service cost for farmers is minimal.
At Auchnerran, we will be attempting to test the technology on a number of mammals that could be having a variety of impacts. For example, rabbits are plentiful here and are eating grass that we’d rather was available to the sheep. A more ambitious application could be preventing access of certain ground predators to our plentiful waders, which occasionally lose clutches of eggs. Even the sheep at Auchnerran may find themselves test subjects: perhaps we can help Allan keep them on the hill by using the laser to round them up occasionally, but instead of having to pursue them with dogs, doing it from up to a couple of kilometres away…
LIFE Laser Fence (LIFE15 ENV/UK/000386)
Laser systems for the prevention of food chain poisoning and minimisation of chemical exposure to the environment.
Image: Project partner meeting to mark the start of the LIFE Laser Fence Project, 14/09/2016.